My recent experience trying to book a free night off of an Earned Award has soured me on earning and using this type of benefit. Last fall I participated in the SPG Bonus Beginnings promo where you could earn a free night by a paid stay within a certain time period. I earned this night and I was told last Dec. that it was available to use. However, last week when I tried to book a room this summer with my award it had disappeared from my account. Several phone calls later it appeared in my account again, but when I made the booking the agent booked the wrong date on the reservation. I immediately called back to fix the reservation, but it took cancelling, reinstating the award, rebooking (40 minutes that one call). All in all it took 7 phone calls totaling 1 hr. 50 min. to get the free night. Lesson learned for me is that points are much easier to use than Earned Awards - point stays can be booked online and they can easily be modified/cancelled. On a positive note, all the agents I talked with were sincerely trying to be helpful. These type of awards are apparently difficult to navigate in their system. Since a free night will probably mean being put in the least desirable room at my hotel, it makes it the more painful to have spent so much effort.